Upon waking up, I assembled my excitement for the day– 35 in Italy! Woohoo!! But in all honesty, I oscillated between a healthy dose of birthday merriment and melancholy. Walking back to the Airbnb, I marched ahead a few steps, pensive in thought about missing my friends, when Penelope called out for me to stop. I turned around and looked in the window of the cheese shop she was ogling…
“Naw, let’s go home, come on…” but before turning to leave, the person at the counter waved for us to come in, pointing at a plate of cheese in his hand. I wanted to continue with my solemn birthday reflections, but this young, attractive cheese man would have nothing to do with it.
We entered the tiny shop and were overwhelmed with hospitality. This cheese man and is coworker immediately started speaking to us in English and handing us samples of meat, bread, cheese, marinated olives. He was singing and joking around, with a sincere sparkle in his eye. He handed us each a chocolate-dipped shortbread cookie before leaving; as we stepped outside I took my daughter’s hand against the chilly evening air and we skipped giddily back to our apartment.
The month of December is going to be spent mostly here in Florence, without much of an agenda and just a list of places I know I want to experience–museums, neighborhoods, pizza joints. Two types of travel are prevalent for me this month, slow travel and winter travel. Winter travel has proven to be my favorite with its coldness and early sunsets, necessitating stylish layers and hand holding. There are no throngs of plaid short wearing-mouth breathing tourists to navigate around, mostly just other Italian families, smartly dressed, finishing up their holiday shopping.
Slow travel allows for late mornings, early happy hours, and no schedule. It means that I can stay in my sweatpants all day, doing laundry and writing, then head out at 5pm in search of food and wine and perhaps a gallery show, feeling totally accomplished.
In the evenings well after the sun sets, is when you will find them at their busiest. Three generations of suit designers– one hunched over a yard of material, meticulously marking with white chalk; another going over the books; the eldest sitting on a foot stool, eyes closed, taking long drags from his cigarette.
The dueling cobblers, one with a fancy store front showcasing leather shoes in various stages of completion paired with matching leather bags and jackets. The other, just across the street in a space no bigger than a broom closet. Two tiny windows allowing for street light to filter in, he bustles proficiently through a large amount of orders, repairing disrepair.
The lone carpenter under his work lamp, surrounded by pieces of unfinished wood and forgotten furniture, he fervently sands each piece by hand, turning the studio space into a dusty dream.
The luthier, who always works alone but never really is, encompassed by sound not yet heard, she prides herself on the delicate touch her calloused fingers maintain.
1) Who am I now, without a job? Without a chosen career path? (I scream this silently at least once a day) and by doing so, I am realizing that a lot of a person’s identity is determined by their work. I didn’t enjoy my work anymore, thus I did not want to be defined by it, and quit. And sold all my belongings and moved abroad.
Oh, the dramatics!
Yes I know, but shit was not going to change if I stayed where I was, so for me this is an essential move in reclaiming my identity as an individual AND as a person in the work force. I am fully, terrifyingly responsible for the new direction of my career path. No pressure. This month is dedicated to getting my CV into tiptop shape–according to my sources it’s away with paragraph style and back to bullet-points, hallelujah! Taking actionable steps every day towards the new life I want, which resembles a life several people I know personally and admire are already living– working remotely from where ever they damn well please. So, career change at 35. I’ll take that challenge any day over mediocrity.
2) I know the worst possible scenario of the human condition… devoid of kindness, truth, and intimacy. I also know that the antithesis of indifference exists in a blinding authenticity found in those who truly matter, including myself.
3) I miss having a clothes dryer. This isn’t my first lamentation on the matter and not my last, however, I was given some clarity the other day whilst hanging up my clothes to dry.
WHY do I own multi-colored and polka dot print underwear?
WHY am I still using underwear with holes around the elastic.
WHY do I continue to wear granny panties?
Even if I’m the only person who sees myself in them… from now on, I am only going to wear less-unflattering – could be mistaken for sexy – black only underwear. WTF, me?! I’m a 35 year old woman and it’s time to step up my undies game and stop being a cheap-ass when it comes to my ass (zing!).